Pokémon Go takes the modern path to success. They enabled their users. What is it that has led it to become the most downloaded game in the app store with over 5% of worldwide users on android installing it in the first 2 weeks? The marketing model. When we look at competing games in the app…
How do major website/seo providers get away with basic mistakes and missed opportunities?
I have had the pleasure with a fine client recently who is in turn working with a company that is a leader in the motorcycle website design industry. If you are a motorcycle dealership, powersports or even car dealer than you are familiar with the PSN Powersports Network (Dominion Enterprises) as a provider of websites for dealerships.
Dominion Enterprises offers dealer style solutions for website to a wide range of niche industries. On the dealership section of their website they state “Dominion Dealer Solutions’ marketing performance system includes: lead generation, mobile apps, reputation management solutions, web-based customer relationship and lead management tools; custom digital marketing tools including websites, SEO, SEM, digital advertising, social media….”
In this example I am using the “featured dealer” from PSN’s own website, so this can be viewed as a model website and in all likeliness is one they are proud of. The issue as you can see from mineolamoto.com is not cosmetic in nature but more decision made in the template designs. A network like this has a framework in place so the flaws are going to be reproduced across thousands of motorcycle dealerships they provide websites for.
The complete waste of the inventory in search.
This is the biggest issue which is glaring and obvious to a trained eye but a deal would never assume is an issue. The used inventory is the true source of unique content to a deal. Assume a dealership lists thousands of motorcycles per year and each is unique to their dealership. A used motorcycle that is listed provides a year, model, color and description around an actual product that is essentially a long tail keyword. IE: when you list a “Used 2008 Honda Rebel motorcycle” you are essntially targetting that keyword. This section of the website would be the most powerful tool for SEO that a dealership has at their disposal. Let’s take a look how they utilized the dealerships best weapon in search.
Very briefly, is the personal taste seo items that is likely controlled by the dealer themselves. This includes the TITLE tag being on line 78 listed after 70 lines of scripts and the title tag itself being poorly thought out.
The TITLE tag of :
“Current Inventory/Pre-Owned Inventory from Yamaha,Suzuki,CanAm,Victory Mineola-Two Wheel Corp”
Could easily have been:
“Pre-owned Yamaha Motorcycles / Used Suzuki Motorcycle Dealer inventory in Mineola, NY” Which pairs the keyword together side by side in a more likely query format.
I understand this sort of small item to be more the dealers own words and not PSN. But getting back to the main pont.
PSN websites host the images and serve the used inventory section in a IFrame. The coding is suspect at best with the use of tables when CSS would serve better to reduce the amount of code. The images of each motorcycle being sold is a unique image taken by each dealer making it SEO material that should be working for the dealer.
When you click on any motorcycle that is for sale you get linked to a URL like this one:
Is this the URL you would use to sell a 2010 Kawasaki Vulcan® 900 Custom? A simple trim of this url shows we can remove the session ID right away and use this link as well.
This is still a garbage URL, since we have 1000 motorcycles for sale, all with unique titles, names, prices and photos but all being served up on a single page.
A simple rewrite that could be applied by PSN to the entire network would be this:
www.mineolamoto.com/preowned/Kawasaki/ 2010/Vulcan-900-Custom/ 153572.2928111
If you just applied this one simple rule to the site’s HTACCESS file.
RewriteRule ^preowned/(.*)/(.*)/(.*)/([a-z0-9\-]+).([a-z0-9\-]+) $ /new_vehicle_detail.asp?veh=$4& pov=$5 [L]
(You could also pass the first 3 variables as well if you had wanted to with $1, $2, and $3 but i don’t think they would need them since they use an ID number to call them on the next page load anyway.)
We can see from the product detail page that they already have the sections of this URL broken down into variables for the $make, $model, $year, $veh and $pov so this information is readily available to be used in a url rewrite.
In the url I used each motorcycle gets a real page that is all its’ own. More importantly we are using URL Rewriting to create a virtual site structure that properly drops every item listed for sale into a logical topic breakdown. Once we have listed thousands of motorcycles Google will see all of the Kawasaki bikes in the same Kawasaki folder, and all the 2010′s in the next folder down, and the model itself in the final folder.
Once the dealer has listed 10 different 2010 Vulcans in the inventory you will have all 10 of them appearing to be together in the folder / Kawasaki/ 2010/Vulcan-900-Custom/.
This changeover could be implemented pretty easily by modifying the IFRAME template they are using and creating the proper rewriting. The result would be not having 1000 motorcycles all represented by a single page inside the root folder and instead having all makes and models and years broken down into seperate themed folders passing the juice in a logical sense.
To take this the next step they could apply the same to the photograph naming as well. It is better practice to have the photo on a page located at:
www.mineolamoto.com/ Kawasaki/ 2010/Vulcan-900-Custom/ 153572.2928111
To actually be a photograph of a 2010 Used Kawasaki Vulcan. The current image on the listing page in their template is:
A quick search of Google Images shows you this item does not appear anywhere. How many new website viewers have been lost on those looking at photos of models that did not come through to your website?
This image could also be rewritten to appear to come from a local and logical source location as well. You will see it uses the same variables to identify which image to show. This means they wouldn’t even have to change the database to use this image source.
www.mineolamoto.com/ Kawasaki/ 2010/Vulcan-900-Custom/ 2928111/2_large_2010_Kawasaki_Vulcan.jpg
We are now serving up an image file with the name 2_large_2010_Kawasaki_Vulcan.jpg and we are doing it from our own URL. This means more people coming to our URL and also that Google images knows the topic of our picture since it is properly named and coming from a folder structure that clearly breaks down the topics to say what this is.
When you click on the images they open into a new page that does have the product name as a title. This is some 101 SEO that was done but unfortunately wasted since again they are calling every single photo with the exact same page:
Which could easily have been a new page named:
www.mineolamoto.com/ Kawasaki/ 2010/Vulcan-900-Custom/ 153572.2928111/gallery/
Now this is just the one aspect that bothers me the most but we are talking about a multi-million dollar company providing websites to thousands of large dealerships. This is a matter of doing something and doing something right from the start.
This is just the most pressing issue since it properly utilizes the incredible amount of content these dealers are uploading every day. Most of these dealers write descriptions by hand for every bike they upload which is also SEO gold left untapped.
A separate article could be written about the abuse of tables in the IFRAME itself, the lack of heading tags throughout the page and the link farm of outbound links on the right sidebar of every single listing page. Do we really need links to other sites to appear on every single listing page?
What about the other guys?
Well I did go to Dealeron briefly, who is the other similar solution for auto dealerships. I had seen some mediocre sites from them in the past and so I went to one of the demo sites at www.sharrett.com.
First used car listing I mouse-over was:
Not perfect, but much better guys. You haven’t leveraged the virtual site structure you could have with the variables you have, but you do have pretty URL’s for the clients most valuable pages.
If you like the way I think and my obsession with SEO follow me at @toddkron or @sellaholics. If you like the article feel free to share it yourself, use “reasonable” sections of it and link back to it. I don’t BS other BS’ers, this article is me venting frustration with large organizations who are not paying attention to important concepts, but also this is my link bait.
Online Marketing Director
CGR Creative, Charlotte NC